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GP Week : Issue 154
With only two points to show for five races and a team-mate tied for points at the top of the drivers’ standings, Ferrari driver has come under intense criticism from fans and the media in recent days. After the Spanish Grand Prix, comments made on the Ferrari website were widely taken to be a warning to the Brazilian driver that he up his game sooner rather than later. “As for an analysis of the Scuderia’s performance and its two drivers, Fernando has always maintained a very high level (67 points and second place in 2010, 51 and fifth place last year) while Felipe’s drop off has made itself felt,” team principal Stefano Domenicali said. “The Brazilian picked up 49 points two years ago and 24 the following year, while so far this season he has just 2. In Montmelo, Felipe was very unlucky, both in the race and in qualifying, but everyone, he more than anyone, is expecting a change of gear starting right away with the Monaco Grand Prix.” But speaking to that same website on Friday, Massa said that – despite his struggles this season – he felt that he had the full support of the Scuderia. “I feel the whole team stands by me,” he said. “Obviously, they are not happy with the results and neither am I: we all want is to get out of this and return to normal. It’s possible and for sure it’s what I want and I know that with the team’s help we will manage it.” Asked to comment on the oft-voiced opinion that he hasn’t been the same driver since the head injury he incurred in qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, Massa said he didn’t feel any different. “I have asked myself that forty five thousand times and don’t think I haven’t and why wouldn’t I: having won so much over three years, eleven races, the question is obvious,” he acknowledged. “And it’s not as though I only stuck to asking myself: I went looking for the answer, asking a whole host of questions and undergoing as many medical examinations. “All the doctors I consulted are prepared to swear hand on heart that there are absolutely no traces of the impact with the spring. As for myself, I don’t feel in any way different to the way I was before that weekend. For example, if it was true that I no longer had the same will to win as before or the same courage, then how can one explain the fact that, at the race start, I am probably still one of the best drivers and I am not the sort to hold back when it comes to overtaking?” Massa’s comments tally with Ferrari’s telemetry, which shows that the Brazilian driver is – technically – the man he was before the accident. But while the data might match, there’s no denying that Massa has lost enough of his edge to struggle in what is the most competitive grid F1 has seen in years. MASSA STAYS STRONG IN FACE OF CRITICISM F1 >>> NEWS 3 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: